Virtual Work

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The recent increase in “virtual workplaces” in our society is an exciting development that may change how people understand the typical work atmosphere. When considering the average work environment, many envision a plain office building filled with cubicles and employees in corporate casual attire. Since technology has advanced to the point where people can effectively communicate in ways besides the archaic board meeting on Monday morning, the typical work environment is able to be transformed into something far less traditional.

Many kinds of consultants in business have previously spent much of their work hours traveling to companies across the country or world. The new advancements in communication including resources like Skype, Facebook, and Twitter allow for many of the same exchanges that would normally occur in a meeting within an office setting that now can occur within several employees’ homes with the use of video calls.

The article by Cascio (2000) explains some of the benefits and drawbacks of this virtual shift. Among the benefits are an improved work-life balance due to the fact that many jobs can now be performed from within an employee’s home. Cascio also mentions that this shift of employees working from home can save companies thousands of dollars in office space that is no longer necessary to maintain or even own.

The disadvantages to this style of communication, however include the ways in which we understand each other. That is, in an email or phone based interaction, many subtle nuances of body language and facial expression can be lost. At present, this would be a large issue for effective an complete communication but I believe as this method of communication becomes more popular, so will employees’ skill at picking up subtle language cues by new means.

References:

Cascio, W.F. (2000). Managing a virtual workplace. Academy of management executive,
14, 81-90.

Put the Human Back in Human Resources

Have you ever felt that your organization’s human resource department lacked a certain human quality? If so, you aren’t alone. Especially since the enormous trend toward social media as a major communication tool, human resources departments (as well as most other departments, to be fair) have become very technologically based in an attempt to expedite and streamline processes. As busy working adults, we spend so much time trying to utilize our vast technological resources to our advantage that developing personal relationships can often fall by the wayside.

A recent TNS global survey data revealed that only 55% of workers felt that their supervisors cared about them as individuals. This tells us that many employees feel undervalued as people within their organizations. Clearly, this disconnect between supervisors and their employees should be remedied in order to help workers feel valued, respected, and engaged. But how?

Sometimes all it takes is a very small personal gesture to establish a positive interpersonal connection. If you manage a group of employees, take the time to ask a staff member how his or her day is going and really listen. Tell an employee how much you appreciate the work he or she completed that day (but only if you mean it). Deliver a hand-written note to someone’s desk as a thank you. These types of simple, but absolutely essential, behaviors could make the difference between an employee staying or leaving an organization. Establishing solid connections with coworkers is also a great way to build morale and engagement.

Regardless of how you go about it, consider holding off on your next tweet until after you take a moment to talk to a coworker face-to-face to build a real connection. In a technology driven society, a little compassion in the workplace goes a long way!

The Old Ball and Chain


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